Interview with Jon Beattiey

A little about myself, who I am, what I do:

A specialized property manager, once with front line responsibility for the building which is now Tate Modern, who ‘took his money and ran’ when privatisation changed the course of  the UK energy market.  After a (short) spell with the National Trust and being concerned with conservation and visitor care, I returned to a first love, writing.   Now I write book reviews, complete copy edits, do proof reads and mentor young fledgling authors – and write fiction and poetry for pleasure.  

When did I know I first wanted to be an author? 

Sometime in the very distant past.  I’ve written all my life in different guises.  My first magazine article was published when I was sixteen.  I’ve written for papers, journals, annual reports and little local magazines too. 

What interests me in ‘romance’ as a genre? 

It’s not all romance.  Sometimes it’s gritty human life, (‘Twelve Girls’) but I enjoy the challenge of fabricating characters with appeal and making them work out their own destinies.  And I’ve a historical mayhem & murder novel coming down the line. 

My writing style? 

Open weave, not continuously deadened material, with a constant thought that the reader’s intelligence will fill in the gaps purposefully created.  There’s always an underlying edge to the story too. It has to be authentic as well, with genuine backdrops as far as literary style allows. I try not to stay in the same ‘voice’ either.  Different story, different voice.  That’s why ‘Seeking’ is so different. 

Authors that may have influenced me? 

Difficult.  Who knows – I’ve been reading continuously since seven – including the whole of Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley novels whilst a teenager.  There’s a few I wouldn’t seek to emulate, no way, – but I won’t mention names, especially some well-known commercial chick-lit writers.  I don’t do couture name dropping, neither have I worked for any woman’s magazine, though perhaps I should?  

The’ Moment’ ? 

Well, there’s a few remembered ‘moments’ which can blossom into fully blown stories.  ‘Seeking’s was a genuine one, watching a group of youngsters leaving a school at the end of the day whilst waiting for my wife, and imagining how their lives would develop.   One young lady looked back at me – and who knows why?There are other ‘moments’ in the bag – but their stories are still to be written.   Oh yes, and ‘Contour’ started with a chance meeting whilst on a Sunday morning walk.  A horse rider with a lovely smile … 

The attraction of independent publishing? 

Full control over where your story goes, the quality of the product, the cover design (for better or worse), and it takes away all the time consuming nausea of agents and publishers attitude towards older (and male!) authors they don’t or won’t accept can write as well (or better!) as some young hopefuls they do take on.  Cynical?  Yes – for when you read some offerings from mainstream publishers you do tend to wonder.  Mind you, there are some brilliant, maybe very lucky, new writers out there but again, I won’t name names..  

Advice for new starters? 

Never give up on writing if it’s inside you.  Write and write again.  Rewrite.  Become inspired.  And don’t think you’ll ever make money from writing, that way it comes as a pleasant surprise when you do.  The old adage – it’s better to travel hopefully than arrive.  If you arrive and land a mega contract, you’ll be ‘writing to the clock’, you may lose inspiration and it could cease to be the same fun. Don’t give up the day job! 

Any other points? 

Another adage: if at first you don’t succeed, write another story.   Many an author who did ‘arrive’ was just plain lucky – trick of fate – and wrote excellent tales before the one which, say, Warner Bros or Twentieth Century Fox discovered.  Oh – and do remember neither Charles Dickens or Jane Austen did a course on ‘Creative Writing’ – and didn’t they publish independently too? Final point:  why isn’t there a ‘Booker’ style prize for independent authors?  We’ve got some splendid talent out there.  


Jon Beattiey is the author of seven books. His latest, Seeking is available from the publisher, Troubador/Matador, on Amazon, and direct from Jon.

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